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Claire Barber, Molly Blunt, Louise Bourgeois, Victoria Burge, Alan Franklin, Amy Gear, Alexander Massouras, Emma McNally, Robert Moon, David Nash, James O’Connell, Bridget Riley, Jill Sylvia, Jayne Wilton
Curated by Joanna Bryant in collaboration with Julian Page
“Rhythm and repetition are at the root of movement. They create a situation within which the most basic forms start to become visually active. By massing them and repeating them, they become more fully present. Repetition acts as a sort of amplifier for visual events which seen singly would hardly be visible. But to make these basic forms release the full visual energy within them, they have to breathe, as it were – to open and close, or to tighten up and then relax. A rhythm that’s alive has to do with changing pace and feeling how the visual speed can expand and contract – sometimes go slower and sometimes go faster. The whole thing must live.” Bridget Riley
Repetition/Variation presents fourteen contemporary artists whose work addresses ideas of repetition and variation, in both their creative process and the content of their work. In selecting the works, curators Julian Page and Joanna Bryant seek to offer a stimulating, eclectic and thoughtful approach to the show’s formal premise. Extending the theme to the thoughts raised by the outcome of the exhibition, the curators have decided to repeat, as well as vary some works over a two-week period, offering the viewer a chance to return and consider the nature of the varying dialogues.
Five artists who work with the construction or application of cloth and thread were invited to create fine art installation work in the gallery, 6th February – 28th February 2015. The gallery curators have always held an interest in the delicate space that artists navigate between fine craft and fine art. By incorporating a diversity of textile material, technique or process these works seek to cross the boundaries of artistic practice.
A catalogue is available, with a Foreward written by Linda Brassington. To order online, click here.
Linda Brassington is an artist, researcher and lecturer. She is former Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Printed Textiles at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. Her work has been recognised with Fellowships to the Royal Society of Arts and the Higher Education Academy, and she continues to exhibit and publish worldwide.
The artists took part in an ‘In Conversation’ with Polly Binns at the Private View on 5th February 2015. Polly Binns is an artist, arts adviser and former Research Professor of Buckinghamshire New University with work held in public collections in the UK and abroad. She completed a midcareer PhD in 1997, a Monograph ‘Surfacing’ was published in 2003. Her most recent exhibition ‘Light and Line’ organised through Nottingham Castle Museum toured in 2012-13.
Painting Now 2014
Ian Robinson was awarded the Bryant + Keeling Prize, collecting £1,000 and representation with the gallery.
Boxes speak of opening and closing, revealing and concealing, of surprises and disappointments, treasures and collections, and of intimate spaces. The pieces in this exhibition might speak of these things too, and more. We expected to embrace the cusp where fine art and craft meet, where something new and unforeseeable have emerged – deconstructing and re-assembling the object and its many connotations in two, three, and four dimensions.
This was an open submission exhibition. Artists were invited to make works not merely in a box, but under, over, around, about or from boxes. The exhibition of carefully selected and curated works, resulting from this submission, was shown in the Gallery from 3rd May – 28th June 2014.
20th – 24th May 2014
We were invited to curate a sculpture garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, to show how sculpture can be used as a focal point, even within a small outdoor space. Partnering with The Plant Specialist, who selected a fantastic range of plants to compliment our sculptural pieces and constructed the garden using pine sleepers washed with Lye, we created an inspirational urban outdoor space showing outdoor sculpture from a number of different sculptors.
Photography by Paul Knight
Alan Franklin, speaking at One Church Street Gallery about his work in the exhibition Precession
6th March 2014
I enjoy questioning the world we live in and responding to that. For example, what colour is the universe? Take time to work it out. We are no better off knowing that the universe is turquoise, but it’s a good thought playing with these questions and thinking ‘What if…’
After nearly 30 years of making 3D pieces, I wanted to make drawings like flat sculptures. After all, drawing is much more convenient for storage. I draw on a square to avoid references to landscape or portraits. The brown paper around the edges refers to the making of the drawing, where I have stretched the paper, and so the edges do not refer to the edge of the paper and the thing in the middle feels like it can be lifted off. There is a game to be played between illusion and not illusion. I don’t intend to make an illusion of space in my drawings but I believe rules are there to be stretched. I like the term ‘making a drawing’ and using materials in an unconventional way.
Looking at Eight by Four, mdf, iron wire, 1994 (see picture above). Originally I was working a lot with mdf, constructing different things. I was spending a lot of time going to builder’s timber yards and buying sheets of 8×4 mdf. At that time I was thinking, ‘well, if we buy all our sheet materials in this unit size, it’s not surprising that our rooms and buildings end up as variations on a box’ and I thought, ‘well okay so I’ll take an 8×4 sheet of mdf and I’ll make it flexible; I’ll stop it being a flat sheet and make it somehow more organic’. I improvised a mechanism for doing that. The surprise or the thing that makes the work for me occurred as a result of the making. After I’d cut up all the units and I’d drilled holes, this way and that way, and started to thread them onto the wire, I found that the friction was so great that it was too difficult to get the wire all the way through. So I then drilled out the larger holes in 50% of the pieces, just to reduce the friction and enable me to get the pliers in there and pull. So it was by solving the problem and coming up with a solution that visually made the piece successful for me. It’s those little things that happen as a result of the making.
Looking at #50, black graphite on paper, 615 x 615mm, where I use a stencil (a mask) to keep the graphite in that area but the graphite dust just falls and comes through at the bottom there. My first thought was to rub that out, and then the second thought was that actually no, that’s what I like – it reveals a little bit about the process of the making. And that happens quite often, I think. It becomes a sort of strategy – you know that if you do something in a certain way it’s going to create these little blips and it’s thinking about those processes and strategies to encourage the wobbles.
Some drawings are more successful than others. Why do I like some drawings more than others? Something seems to happen with some drawings where I get a little bit more of a surprise than I had expected. It takes me on a journey because while I’m drawing and a surprise happens, I’m thinking about what the rule will be for the next drawing and considering what if. Time, labour and love are adopted for the sake of the journey and hope that it will result in some sort of quality. Maybe I’ve come full circle and I now have an urge to make sculpture more drawn. I’ll follow the journey wherever it may take me.
An Unexpected Wobble
Alan Franklin’s drawings originate from simple, familiar processes and repetitive mark making, but result in works that are temptingly intriguing, delightfully unexpected and profoundly meditative. The idea of a wobble suggests an unpredictable, or perhaps an accidental divergence from a dynamic system. Franklin’s works play subtly with the fault in a rule, or a slip from the expected.
By combining a playful use of ordinary materials (such as elastic bands, birdseed, salt or sugar) with simple, pre-determined processes, Franklin embarks upon a drawing. Certain initial or ongoing conditions (such as the availability or cost of a material, the ambient temperature that will affect the flow of ink from a biro, or the random choice of colours from a box of paints) begin to cause events (wobbles), which create surprise and visual interest. Franklin is mindful of such determinants, allowing the unexpected, and even conspiring to invite a particular cause to create a startling effect. This inventive and whimsical approach is the hallmark of all his work.
‘I want my work to stray or wander away from what we think we know in order to be surprised – not by something new, but by something which is already there.’
Similar to a wobbling spinning-top, precession means a gravity-induced, slow, and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body’s rotational axis. In particular, it refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation. The exhibition title Precession comes from Franklin’s interest in the physics of the universe and the interconnection of all things – sometimes referred to as the butterfly effect.
Alan Franklin is Senior Lecturer was awarded an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College in 1983 and has since exhibited his work, mainly his sculpture, on an international arena from London to Japan. He has completed residences in remote locations such as Iceland, Poland and the Grizedale Forest in Cumbria. This is one of the first occasions that Franklin has exhibited his drawings.
Contemporary miniature works that express a sustained conversation with materials
The selecting panel included leading figures within the textile art world, Polly Binns and Linda Brassington, who worked in collaboration with the Directors of One Church Street Gallery. The panel reviewed submissions from hundreds of applicants from around the world, seeking a breadth of approach in the construction or application of cloth and thread. The gallery has been particularly keen to focus on the delicate space that artists navigate between fine craft and fine art. By incorporating a diversity of textile material, technique or process these works seek to cross the boundaries of artistic practice.
The final exhibits selected, embrace work that is sculptural, experimental, two-dimensional and even four-dimensional. Each piece is no larger than 20 x 20 x 20 cm, unframed and unglazed. Submissions were accepted from an international arena including Israel, Finland, United States as well as the United Kingdom.
Five artists will have a joint exhibition in 2015. For a review of Pinpoint 2013, click here.
Polly Binns is an artist and former Research Professor of Buckinghamshire New University; she is currently a visiting Fellow of Norwich University College of the Arts. Polly joined Professor Rod Bugg to judge the One Church Street Gallery Drawing Biennale in 2010. Her exhibition, Light and Line, has currently shown at Nottingham Castle.
Linda Brassington is an artist, researcher and lecturer. She developed a long career in higher education, principally as Senior Lecturer in Printed Textiles at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham until 2009. Linda continues her creative practice from her studio in Hampshire. Her textiles are in the collection of the Crafts Study Centre, and recent work has been exhibited in the UK, Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, China, Canada and the United States. Linda has been recognised with Fellowships to the Royal Society of Arts and the Higher Education Academy.
Written by Gwen Hedley
17th October 2013
One Church Street is a wonderfully light and airy gallery, affording an intimate space that is entirely right for this exhibition of contemporary miniature works. The selectors sought to cross the boundaries of artistic practice, by including a diversity of material, technique or process. This they have done admirably, and the fifty-five works shown are rich and varied. The common denominator is that none is more than 20x20x20 cms.
The scale of the works is beguiling – each piece demands close inspection, and benefits from being devoid of any frame and glazing that could detract or create a barrier between viewer and exhibit. The works sit well within their generous spaces, whether wall-hung, or freestanding on plinths set at various heights.
Familiar traditional textile techniques are employed, but by their execution and the underpinning concepts of the works, the exhibition is entirely contemporary. In addition to the time-honoured textile materials of cloth and yarn, there is ample evidence of sensitively-used non-traditional materials, including lead, steel and concrete.
Ann Goddard’s mixed media sculptures reflect her concern regarding ecological issues and the impact of human activity on biodiversity. ‘Encroaching’ depicts a soft cotton, bristled form’ embedded within a small tortuous concrete mass – is it emerging or burrowing? The viewer must decide. The second piece entitled ‘Remains’ is constructed with cotton fabric, thread, wax and wire, and sits firmly and strongly alongside its companion sculpture. Manipulated cloth shapes are speared onto wires that protrude into space. These sculptures are tiny in scale, but powerful and strong in message and presence.
‘Cone’ is stunning in its simple directness, and beauty of mark. Referencing physical traces of history within cloth, Ali Holloway has immersed a full cone of thread in dye, before unravelling the thread, resulting in an empty cardboard cone that bears the dyed marks and herringbone-like patterning of the previously wound thread. The marks and historical traces leave an intriguing ghostly presence.
Emma Blackburn’s work has a historical basis, involving the staining and decomposition of ancient cloth that bears traces of human life. ‘ Without You’ 1 and 2 is a pair of child’s gloves, in which cloth and stitch are dominant. The gloves lie casually arranged, as if recently removed. They are faded and worn, heavily stitched with a variety of threads, and evoke images of poverty and labour, but also of love, through constant repair with robust utilitarian stitches. They call out to be handled.
Crux 1, an intriguing wall hung piece by Sarah Burgess, is concerned with repair and renewal, and a consideration of inherent beauty within imperfection. A bold twig with its sinuous tendril incompletely wrapped in fine scarlet thread, extends beyond and stands proud of the ground, on which a sensitively printed offset shadow gives great visual depth. In contrast to the delicate tendril, two robust ceramic shards, held on with thread appear to be slipping from the lower edge of the work. This thoughtful piece speaks of strength, fragility, repair and renewal, and makes for compulsive viewing.
Repair also features in ‘Darn’ and ‘Fragment’ by Stella Adams-Schofield – works that make for contemplative viewing. Her work is rooted in British textile craft, and these stop-animation pieces capture the time element in the making and mending of textiles. I had several viewings, and relished the somewhat mesmeric stitch rhythms, being fully engaged and feeling the artist’s total involvement with her practice.
Standing with a simple elegance upon a tall plinth is Gizella Warburton’s ‘Ritual Form’. A slab of weathered oak with three adjacent loosely wrapped bindings provides the base on which at one end, stands a beautifully pure bowl form. Three raised lines within the inside rim of the bowl echo those on the oak support. In contrast to its smooth interior the bowl’s exterior surface features the painted texture of very loosely woven cloth. Dark on the undersides, the colour gradually pales to white at its stiffly ragged rim. Reminiscent of natural forms, I had to resist the urge to gently cup it in my hands.
Altogether different feelings are evoked by Sue Stone’s ‘The Universal Child’. The artist’s work on recycled linen, reminds us of the senseless futility of on-going religious and sectarian wars, and especially of the physical and emotional damage done to children. Machine stitched graffiti and hand stitched figures are poignant, and the messages moving. Every stitch symbolises thousands of lost lives, whilst the cross stitches in particular represent kisses that will never be received. This is a powerful piece of work, perhaps made even more so, by the fact that its unsettling message is conveyed through the cosy and comforting medium of old linen and basic domestic stitch to which we can readily relate.
Space does not permit a written appreciation of each exhibit, yet to have selected a few does not really do justice to the exhibition, for Pinpoint is a cohesive body of work in which each piece is an important part of the whole. It is extremely well presented, elegant, thoughtful and spacious, exemplifying the phrase ‘less is more’.
This excellent exhibition dances on the ground that is the delicate divide between fine art and fine craft, and does so in resounding style.
Gwen Hedley is a member of the Textile Study Group and the Society of Designer Craftsmen. She is a freelance lecturer, tutor and artist working in the UK, Sweden, France, Germany, Ireland and Japan. Her work is in public and private collections and she is the author of publications, including ‘Drawn to Stitch’ and ‘Surfaces for Stitch’.